The Ring of Five Dragons (Pearl Saga Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview


A towering epic of fantasy, The Pearl, is launched in The Ring of Five Dragons. Filled with action, color, and the myriad details of another world, The Pearl is the first great fantasy series of the new millennium, set to rival Robert Jordan, David Eddings, George R. R. Martin, Terry Brooks, and Terry Goodkind in popular appeal.

This astonishing first volume opens as the Kundalan people have suffered for a century under the viciously ...
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The Ring of Five Dragons (Pearl Saga Series #1)

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Overview


A towering epic of fantasy, The Pearl, is launched in The Ring of Five Dragons. Filled with action, color, and the myriad details of another world, The Pearl is the first great fantasy series of the new millennium, set to rival Robert Jordan, David Eddings, George R. R. Martin, Terry Brooks, and Terry Goodkind in popular appeal.

This astonishing first volume opens as the Kundalan people have suffered for a century under the viciously oppressive, technologically-superior V'ornn invaders. In the resulting crisis of faith -- why hasn't their goddess Miina saved them? -- Kundalan religion has fallen under the control of evil forces from within who forbid the teaching of traditional sorcery, pretending to have no magic of their own. The V'ornn's mysterious leaders, the Gyrgon, know better, and search for the lost Ring of Five Dragons, the key to the door of the fabled Kundalan Storehouse, and perhaps to Kundalan sorcery as well.

But misused, the Ring is the trigger of seemingly inexorable annihilation for V'ornn and Kundalan alike. Now from among the oppressed must arise the hero of prophecy, the Dar Sala-at, who alone can wield the sorcerous power to save the world.

Thus begins a huge epic rooted in the conflict between spiritual and technological cultures. The twisting plot raises difficult and provocative moral questions in the course of a constantly surprising, sometimes shocking, fantastic adventure that will transport fantasy readers to new heights of enthusiasm, and make them ask for more.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
For more than a century, the Kundalan people have suffered under the maniacal rule of the V'om invaders. Now, in a weird twist of fate, the future of the entire world presses on the shoulders of a Kundalan prophet. Ring of Five Dragons marks the launch of a new series from a bestselling author.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An imaginative, otherworldly culture clash between technology and spirituality fires this ambitious first novel in a projected multivolume epic fantasy from bestseller Lustbader (Angel Eyes; French Kiss; etc.). Under the oppressive rule of the technologically superior V'ornn, the spiritually evolved people of Kundala have suffered a century of enforced slavery, wondering why their goddess Miina has abandoned them. The militaristic Gyrgon technomages, members of a V'ornn caste, yearn for the secrets of Kundalan magic, yet their misuse of the lost Ring of Five Dragons could be cataclysmic. Gifted in healing and mystical arts, the twin Ramahan priestesses, Giyan and Bartta, know they must locate and protect the prophesied savior, Dar Sala-at, "the Chosen One of Miina who would find The Pearl and use it to free the Kundalan from their bondage to the V'ornn." The twins head a huge cast an appendix lists 30 major characters that parades against the backdrop of Lustbader's richly detailed tapestry, with its complex plotting, fluid action writing and vivid descriptive passages. Another appendix provides a pronunciation guide to the V'ornn language, but a much-needed lexicon to Lustbader's litany of curiously coined words (cthauros, laaaddis, numaaadis) is unfortunately absent a minor quibble, since both newcomers to Lustbader and his ardent admirers will champion this novel as a potent portal to fabulous mythic realms. (June 4) Forecast: Lustbader's international reputation, with his titles translated into more than 20 languages, guarantees more than enough readers to warrant this 100,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Despite the conquest of their planet by the offworld alien race known as the V'ornn, the Kundalan people struggle to resist their invaders and hope against hope for the coming of the world savior known as the Dar Sala-at. Best-selling mainstream author Van Lustbader (The Ninja, Angel Eyes) returns to his epic sf/fantasy roots in a series lead-off that blends Asian mysticism, ritual sorcery, and techno-magic to create a high-powered tale of action, adventure, and personal courage. Most libraries should purchase this title for its own sake as well as in anticipation of patron demand. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Lustbader's work is troubled by the growing conflict between technology and spirituality. . . . What is particularly compelling about The Ring of Five Dragons is the way Mr. Lustbader creates . . . [his] world." -The New York Times

"The Ring of Five Dragons, however, is not purely a fantasy novel. It . . . is a fusion, blending and breaking the barriers between technology and sorcery, pragmatism and mysticism. . . . Lustbader, as always, is full of surprises." -Chicago Sun-Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429913416
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 7/14/2002
  • Series: Pearl Saga Series , #1
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 233,036
  • File size: 891 KB

Meet the Author


Eric Van Lustbader is the author of numerous New York Times bestselling thrillers and fantasy novels, including Last Snow, First Daughter, Blood Trust, The Ninja and The Pearl series. Lustbader was chosen by Robert Ludlum’s estate to continue the Jason Bourne series, and his Jason Bourne novels include The Bourne Legacy and The Bourne Betrayal. Born and raised in Greenwich Village in New York City, Lustbader worked in the New York public school system and in the music business before turning to writing full-time. He lives in Manhattan and on the South Fork of Long Island with his wife, Victoria, who is also an accomplished author.
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Read an Excerpt


1
Owl


Sixteen years--a lifetime--later, Bartta, now a small, dark, hunched figure not unlike a lorg, found herself on the same path. The sky was cloudless, of a blue so achingly rich it bore the appearance of fresh lacquer. The sun was in its waning hours, magnified by the atmosphere, so that its curious purple spot seemed like the pupil of an eye. Miina's Eye, the Ramahan believed, that saw and recorded everything.
Borne upon the air was the scent of the kuello-firs, and when Bartta's sandals crunched the brown needles she felt again that tiny shiver of recognition of things apart. In an instant the afternoon she had killed the lorg came rushing back to her. She paused, looking for the dry gully and the large flat rock of a golden hue under which, years ago, she had found the lorg.
Bartta wore the long, persimmon-colored robes of raw silk reserved for the konara, senior priestesses of the Dea Cretan, the Ramahan High Council. In the old days, before the coming of the V'ornn, the Ramahan were ruled by one woman: Mother. That was her title, which she inherited as a child, when her name was taken from her forever. At that time, the Ramahan had been made up of equal numbers of women and men--if such a thing could be imagined! The men had been purged after their innate greed led to the loss of The Pearl, the Sorcerous Rappa had been destroyed, and the Dea Cretan was formed to ensure that the violence that had engulfed the Order would never again occur, that the sorcery that had been inextricably bound into Ramahan society was carefully weeded out, strand by strand.
As Bartta moved along the path she was immersed in a halo of myrrh, oils of clove, and clary-sage, the incense she burned when she prayed. These spices gave her strength of conviction and clarity of thought. She tapped her forefinger against her tin, unpainted lips. Where was that rock? She was close to it, she knew that much.
The passage of time and the vagaries of her memory caused her to walk past it twice. Each time, however, her Ramahan training compelled her to turn around, and at last she recognized the rock, whose golden color flashed only here and there beneath a dull layer of shale dust and kuellofir needles. Lifting the hem of her robes, she half slid down the slope into the gully, picked her way carefully across the loose shale and the odd tufts of yellow wrygrass that had sprung up. Over the years, a geological eruption had warped and scarred the depression .The rock now lay like a kind of bridge across what appeared to be a fissure in the gully bed.
She bent to touch the cool, rough golden skin of that rock, stirring even after all this time with images of the lorg. She cursed heartily. That lorg had certainly been an evil omen. Three days after its death Giyan had been captured in a raid, taken to Axis Tyr to be the slave of the V'ornn. That was sixteen years ago, and never a word from her since. She had heard stories, many times, about the regent's Kundalan mistress. Giyan was sharing her bed with a V'ornn! How could she? It was unimaginable! Thinking of the dreaded V'ornn, Bartta shuddered. That is when she heard the sound--tiny, indistinct, echoey. She turned back, looked around the perimeter of the gully. Nothing stirred save the shivering tops of the graceful kuello-firs.
The sound came again, tricking down her spine like a rivulet of ice water. On her knees, she peered into the fissure. Darkness greeted her beyond the silver of opening between rock and shale bed.
"Hello?" she called in a voice as quavery as if it were underwater. "Hello?"
A sound, neither human nor animal but somewhere in between, came to her. It made her jerk erect, her scalp prickling eerily. She backed up, stumbling a little, righted herself, then turned to flee across the gully. Failing to lift the hem of her robe, she tripped and fell, ripping the robe and skinning a knee. She gave a little cry, regained her footing, and ran on. As she reached the slope at the edge of the gully, she paused to catch her breath, squinting upward into the luminous ultramarine sky. Her pulse hammered, and her mouth was dry.
The soft, eerie moaning of the wind made the boulders and gullies seem alive even as it concealed that other hideous sound. She turned her gaze toward the stands of kuello-firs and breathed deeply to rid herself of the last splinter of fear. She started as the great horned owl emerged from shadowed, needled branches, swooped low on enormous, soundless wings. She called Miina's name, for the owl was the sacred messenger of the Goddess. It seemed to be heading straight for her. She pressed herself against the slope. Too late to run. She was murmuring a prayer when it passed close enough for her to feel the backwash of its mighty grey-blue wings. Then it swooped even lower, and she whirled to follow its flight. The owl passed over the long, flat rock, then again, and a third time, before lifting on powerful pinions, and wheeling away into the dark kuello-fir forest.
A peculiar terror gripped her. The owl was an omen, of course. An extraordinary omen, because an owl in daylight signified imminent death. Her sense of dread escalated, but she knew that she could not ignore an omen from Miina. But that could not be; Miina had passed beyond the rim, or so she had convinced herself. Then what was Miina's messenger doing here? She had to find out.
Reluctantly, she retraced her steps. She fell to her knees beside the stone, grimacing with pain .The sun sat atop the collar of the forest, the shadows in the gully were long, blue, dense.
Bartta grunted. The rock moved with the reluctance of an invalid, its protest in the form of a miniavalanche of shale. The chilling sound came again, and on her belly she stuck her head into the fissure. In the last of the light she could just make out a small figure curled in a corner. It was Kundalan, not animal--and small, certainly not an adult.
Once again, she almost turned away. She had no desire to descend into that dangerous darkness. But her training held her. Miina had spoken; now she must act. How long had it been since Miina had given the Ramahan a sign? Bartta did not know. A long time, anyway. A very long time.
"Hold on!" she called, clambering down. "I'm coming for you!"
Nearly choking in a cloud of dust, she descended, cursing mightily, using her thick, work-hardened hands to grasp small outcroppings to keep her from pitching headlong into the fissure. She needed to be especially careful because the friable shale was all too apt to Shear off or crumble beneath her weight. The preponderance of sedimentary rock in this area, she knew, was due to the Chuun River, which flowed from here all the way down to Axis Tyr, the Kundalan city the V'ornn had chosen as their capital. Bartta had heard many stories of Axis Tyr as it had been before the V'ornn invasion, a beautiful city of blue-and-rose stone sitting astride the Chuun River. Now, from all she could glean, the only Kundalan inside the city were miserable prisoners or slaves. Like Giyan.
Bartta's hard heart was wrung out with the terrible sacrifices she had made. It had become a poor shrunken organ no more useful than a stone. Yet she could still hate. Her blood ran cold when she thought of the V'ornn. Such monsters! So nasty to look at; hairless as a rotten clemett and twice as smelly. You could never be certain what the hairless beasts were thinking, though members of the Kundalan resistance had come to know how they would react in certain situations. But the resistance was largely impotent. Of what use was their deaths? One hundred and one years after the occupation and nothing had changed. There was no help for it. One had to learn how to live with the yoke around one' neck.
Miina be praised that Giyan had been taken by the V'ornn and not her. Bartta knew that she would surely have hung herself rather than be made to serve them or touch their rancid flesh. Anyway, she thought sourly, her twin had shown a perverse curiosity about the V'ornn. Now she had her wish.
Bartta had begun to sweat. It was unnaturally hot inside the fissure, and she made her stumbling way around the perimeter to avoid the worst of the heat, which seemed to be rising in sickening waves from the jagged rock floor. A copse of pink calcite stalagmites rose from the periphery of the fissure floor like grasping fingers. The heated air shimmered and burned her lungs so that she hastened to the spot where the figure lay. A girl of perhaps fifteen years, Bartta saw, who was shaking as if with the ague. A cloyingly sweet-smelling sweat rimed her forehead, matted her long, tangled, blond hair. Her beautiful features were clouded, darkened, ravaged. When Bartta scooped her up in her arms, the girl felt as if she were on fire.
The girl cried out as Bartta carried her back to the opening she had made by moving the rock above.
"Stop your sniveling," she snapped. "I will have you out of here in a moment. You're safe now." But judging by the girl's flushed and dry skin, Bartta did not believe that. The Ramahan were great healers as well as mystics. Bartta could well read the signs of duur fever, and she liked not the advanced stage the virus was in. This fever, which came in five-year cycles, had ravaged the Kundalan for a century now. The Ramahan believed that the V'ornn had brought the virus to Kundala; the resistance was certain that the Gyrgon, the mysterious. V'ornn caste of technomages, had manufactured it as another weapon in their overwhelming arsenal to bring the Kundalan race to its knees. In any case, the Ramahan had had only limited success in saving the victims of duur fever. If it was caught within forty-eight hours of the onset of symptoms, a poultice of a mixture of the rendered seeds of black loosestrife and the thistle heart of coltsfoot digitalis had proved effective. Otherwise, once the virus reached the lungs it replicated so rapidly that within days the victim drowned as if lost at sea.
With the girl in her arms, Bartta stopped and looked up at the wedge of darkening sky. It looked a long way off, farther by far than the floor of the fissure had looked before she had scrambled down here. The girl was dying, no doubt about it. Of what possible use was she then? Perhaps, if she, Bartta, was able to get her out of here and back to the village she could prolong her life a week, two at the outside. But to what purpose? Already the girl's face was distorted by pain, and her suffering would be merciful, a blessing even.
But as Bartta was setting her down, a small earth tremor sent shale scaling down on them. Bartta braced herself against the trembling side of the fissure as the girl cried out. Her eyes focused and she moaned pitifully, clinging to Bartta. Waiting for the tremor to abate, Bartta had cause to recall Miina's sacred owl. Now that the Goddess had at last spoken, She had chosen Bartta! The owl had passed three times over this fissure. Why? Certainly not so that Bartta should leave this girl here to expire. But what then the meaning of Miina's messages? Perhaps the Goddess meant for this girl to become her property. But, again, why? Was she in some way special?
Bartta peered down at the face so ethereally beautiful, so ashen she could plainly see the play of blue veins beneath skin unnaturally taut and shiny with fever. Brushing lank hair back from the girl's forehead, she said: "What is your name?"
"Riane." Her heart was beating as fast as an ice-hare's.
"Hmm. I do not recognize that name. Where are you from?"
The girl's face wrinkled up. "I do not…I can't remember. Except…"
"Except what, my dera?"
"I remember skelling."
"Skelling?" Bartta frowned. "I do not believe I know that word. What does it mean?"
"Skelling. You know, climbing up and down sheer rock faces."
"Don't be foolish," Bartta scoffed. "No one I know does that."
"I do," Riane said boldly. "I mean, I did. I distinctly remember coming down Four Whites."
"But that is impossible," Bartta said. Four Whites was the name of a sheer mountain cliff that rose a kilometer above the abbey. It was too steep, rugged, and ice-strewn even for the surefooted mountain goats.
"Not really. I've done it may times."
Bartta's frown deepened. "All right, let's say you did this skelling thing. What happened next?"
"A handhold I had been using sheared off. Maybe the rock had fractured when the earth tremored. Anyway, I fell."
"All right, dear, but how did you wind up here, beneath the gold rock?"
"I…don't know."
Bartta sighed. "What do you remember? What about your mother? Your father?"
Riane shook her head.
Think, girl. Think!"
Riane shied away from her, curling up into a ball. With an effort, Bartta softened her voice. "Please try," she said. "It is important."
"Everything else is a blank."
Amnesia, Bartta thought. She must be injured as well as sick.
As if to underscore this, the girl whimpered, "I don't feel good."
"You are going to be all right," Bartta said automatically, though she doubted that very much.
"Don't leave me," the girl blurted suddenly.
Bartta felt as if she had a millstone around her neck. Forcing herself to smile, she said, "We will leave together. Very soon you will see the--"
The girl"s startling blue eyes bobbled this way and that as another tremor possessed the fissure. With a hiss and clatter, more shale shook loose, scattering itself across the rock floor. "Will we die here?" the girl asked. She was obviously unaware of her condition. "We will not die here." Bartta arranged her features in what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "I am Bartta of Stone--"
Riane screamed as the third and most violent of the tremors shock the fissure. "No sense in crying," Bartta said sternly over Riane's moaning. "We will be out of here soon enough." Over the girl's head she could see layers of shale sluicing toward the center of the fissure floor, where they vanished into an opening the tremors had pried open in the bedrock. I must get out of here, Bartta though, or I will die. Again, she considered leaving the girl behind, but the image of Miina's owl remained in her mind's eye, bending her to its imperative.
She stood and, bracing herself against the side of the fissure, hoisted Riane until she was draped over her left shoulder. "All right," she said. "Hold on tight now."
Thus burdened, she began to climb. It was slow going. She was savvy enough to know that a goodly number of the hand- and toeholds she had used on her way down had been compromised by the quakes. The ones she found she tested twice before moving cautiously upward. All the while, Riane's weight bore down on her, bowing her back, spreading an ache through her shoulders and hips that quite soon bloomed into outright pain. Still, she continued her climb, willing herself not to hurry, to test each makeshift rung lest it crumble beneath her, sending her and the girl back to the fissure floor. But always in the back of her mind lurked the spectre of another tremor, which would surely dislodge her. She felt more vulnerable than she had since entering the Ramahan sinecure of Floating White but, most curiously, she also felt a kind of exhilaration as she connected with her body again, using it as she had when she was a little girl. It felt fine to have dirt beneath her nails again, to feel the flex and draw of muscle and sinew as they worked. She was aware of Riane whimpering behind her, and she prayed that in her weakened state she would be able to hold on.
Two-thirds of the way up, Bartta ran out of handholds. Three separate possibilities crumbled under her grip, the third breaking apart only as she put all their combined weight on it. She fell back to her former perch with a jolt that caused a painful percussion up her spine. Riane passed out. Just as well, Bartta thought. The girl is terrified enough for the both of us.
Despite instinct urging her nerve endings to move, Bartta took time to breathe deeply. For the moment, the earth had grown still, but cocking an ear she heard not a single birdsong, and this she interpreted as warning that there was more seismic activity to come. Living all her life in the embrace of the Djenn Marre, she was no stranger to quakes. They were lightest in the lower foothills, increasing in intensity the farther one penetrated the high crags. Once, when she was on her way to deliver the monthly ration of supplies to the Ice Caves, she had been unlucky enough to be caught in a quake that had sheared off a section of cliff face not seven meters from where she had crouched in terror. The Ice Caves were infrequently visited and only by Ramahan acolytes. They were carved out of the granite Djenn Marre like the eyrie of a fantastic mythic raptor five kilometers from the abbey and a kilometer above the waterfalls of Heavenly Rushing, at the headwaters of the Chunn. How the Tchakira lived up there was anyone's guess. But what more did they deserve, these dregs and outcasts--criminals, misfits, madmen who had been expunged from society? Still, they were Kundalan. The Ramahan felt it the sacred duty of Miina to ensure that these poor wretches would not perish in the wind-and- ice-swept peaks of the Djenn Marre. Not that any civilized Kundalan had ever seen a Tchakira. But they existed, all right, for when the Ramahan acolyte arrived at the Ice Caves, as Bartta had, the previous month's rations were gone. She, like all the acolytes before her, had paused only long enough to lay down the small, dense packages of food and herb concentrates, consume a gulp or two of cloudy rakkis, and head back down the ice-encrusted, nearly vertical trail. Now another nearly vertical trail loomed above her. Despite her elevation, the evening sky seemed farther away than ever, a mocking shell, blackened like a burnt offering. A star emerged from the enveloping darkness, crackling blue-white fire, and just to its right one moon, then another poured their reflected light into the fissure. Bartta felt it first in the soles of her feet, and she braced herself, praying furiously for Miina to extend Her protective hand. A clap like thunder broke the low rumbling, echoed painfully in her ears. As the earth lurched, she slipped, desperately hanging on. The fissure all around her seemed to be breaking apart, and she was certain that she was about to breathe her last.
Stillness so absolute it was unnerving enveloped everything. Looking up, she saw that the wall itself had split so that the upper tier now stepped back in a kind of ragged staircase. Instinct drove her upward. In an instant, she had reached the natural steps and, scrambling as quickly as she was able under the circumstances, made her way out of the fissure.
Gaining the floor of the gully, she did not pause even to catch her breath, but half ran with the insensate girl still over her shoulder. Not until she found herself safely on the path that wound through the kuello-firs down to Stone Border did she even dare look back over her shoulder. What she expected to see she could not say, but in the wan moonslight spilling down like milk from a she-goat's udders she saw nothing out of the ordinary. With a grunt, she shifted her burden to a less painful position, then hurried down the path toward home.

Copyright © 2001 by Eric Van Lustbader
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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Eric Van Lustbader
Barnes & Noble.com: Eric, how long did it take you to construct the intricate plotlines for this novel, and have you already formulated the story line for the rest of the series?

Eric Van Lustbader: The Pearl series had been in my head for a number of years. I did something with it I've actually never tried before -- I wrote a 50-page outline, and that's how my agent sold it to Tor. The book took just under a year to write. The first part came very quickly because it was more or less taken from the outline. But then I had to stop, because a number of fascinating characters were being born in my head that never appeared in the outline! This happens all the time when I'm writing, which is why I resist writing an outline. I may know more or less where the story is headed. I may even know the end -- even the very last scene. But all the wonderful spaces in between are created as the story moves forward. That's the most exciting part of writing for me. The series is projected to be six or seven books, and Tor has already asked me to consider a prequel that tells the story of Kundala before the V'ornn invasion. I have to admit, I hadn't thought of that one, but I must say it interests me greatly.

B&N.com: There were some great characters in this novel -- the twin Kundalan sorceresses Giyan and Bartta; Annon Ashera, the eldest son of the V'ornn regent; the Kundalan orphan, Riane; the genetically altered Gyrgon, Nith Sahor; and Thigpen, the mysterious Rappa. Did you enjoy writing about one character, or group of characters, more than the others?

EVL: Another great thing about writing is that your characters have a habit of surprising you. That's how you know they're really alive, that what you've written is truly vibrant. Giyan is one of those characters who was in the original outline but who quickly outgrew her original design. I simply fell in love with her. Her character is so rich; she holds so many secrets it's heartbreaking. And yet she is strong and courageous. Neither Nith Sahor nor Thigpen were in the outline. I had no idea when I began that a Gyrgon would come to the fore in the story line of the first book, but Nith Sahor had a fiercely strong character and simply shouldered his way in. As for Thigpen, I have a red panda at home. Not a real one, you understand; I think that would be illegal. Anyway, I was staring at her one day and all of a sudden Thigpen popped into my head, full-blown. I saw her as smart, tenacious and with a wry sense of humor. From the beginning, I wanted to find some natural way to inject an element of humor into a very serious story. That's Thigpen.

B&N.com: Although the new culture being created on Kundala between the natives and the V'ornn is filled with horrifying injustices, there is always the hope of the coming of the Dar Sala-at, the One destined to free the Kundalan from servitude. There is also the dream of the V'ornn regent, Eleusis Ashera, of Za Hara-at, the first city where Kundalan and V'ornn trade freely and as equals. I loved the fact that the Dar Sala-at was both Kundalan and V'ornn, although hardly anyone knows it. How did you come up with the character of Riane?

EVL: Again, this is part of me -- or at least the holistic way I see the world. I think we've all heard that there is some female in all males and vice versa. I feel that very deeply. But being something of a sociologist (it was my major at Columbia, after all), and having talked to a lot of teens, I am increasingly aware of how many of them feel as if they are outsiders, unable to connect with the mainstream of society. I wanted the most vivid illustration of that for my protagonist. Riane is truly a stranger in a strange land. Not only is Annon a male in an alien body, but it's a female body, to boot! Don't you think it would be wonderful if males could be placed inside a female (and vice versa) for just a week to see what it was like? How many misconceptions and arguments could be avoided! It's an intriguing fantasy that I've brought to life.

B&N.com: Aside from the brilliantly realized world of Kundala and its fascinating inhabitants and cultures, the one thing that stands out about this novel is its intensity. The sequence involving Eleana's desperate battle against a Khagggun soldier and her unlikely rescue exemplify the whole novel. Reading this novel was definitely an intense experience. Was writing this novel emotionally draining or exhilarating? EVL: Of all the novels I've written, this one most reminds me of my first bestseller, The Ninja, inasmuch as I was so psyched writing it that I had no time to get exhausted. The same was true for The Ring of Five Dragons. I did take a vacation in Europe just before writing the last part of the book, and that gave me the time to feel all my characters breathing and living, and to know absolutely what was right for them -- what their destinies were going to be. There's a lot of symmetry to the book that makes it such a satisfying read. For instance, Annon and his childhood friend/enemy Kurgan echo the friend/foe relationship of the twin sorceresses Giyan and Bartta. It was also fun embedding things you will be able to return to after reading the following volumes and say, "Wow, this is how it all began," or "This is why he or she ended up this way." It's like seeding a treasure hunt that evolves over many volumes. That was quite a challenge, let me tell you, but it was tremendous fun for all that!

B&N.com: I'm sure that once The Ring of Five Dragons hits the bookstores, there will be a mass of fantasy fans frothing at the mouth awaiting the next book in The Pearl saga to find out what happens to Riane, the prophesied Dar Sala-at, Giyan and Eleana. What is the tentative title of the second Pearl novel, and can you give us a hint as to what's going to happen in the next book?

EVL: The second volume is called The Veil of One Thousand Tears. I'm about a third of the way through it, so don't worry, it will be out in May 2002! I don't want to give too much away, but I can tell you some things. For instance, something happens to Giyan at the very beginning of the book that was set in motion in The Ring of Five Dragons, and it's bad -- very bad. Also, a lot of the book takes place in an area of Kundala we've only heard about, a fascinating, enigmatic place called the Korrush. We learn much more about the Gyrgon and what's happening with Nith Batoxxx, which will surprise just about everybody. And Eleana will have her baby; but, again, the outcome won't be anything that you would expect. This book deals much more deeply with gender relations: Riane's feelings toward Eleana, what it means to be a female in Kundalan society, how Riane explores her own feelings of love and sexuality. These are key issues that everyone grapples with as they're growing up. I could go on, but I won't, because surprises are meant to be savored, don't you think?

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Reading Group Guide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Van Lustbader is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Ninja, White Ninja, and French Kiss. Beginning in the 1970s, Eric Van Lustbader began a hugely successful writing career. His novels have been translated into over twenty languages, and are bestsellers worldwide. Now, with The Ring of Five Dragons and The Veil of a Thousand Tears, he presents a towering fantasy epic like none his legions of fans have every seen.

Eric Van Lustbader lives in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York.

ABOUT THE RING OF FIVE DRAGONS

In this first volume of Eric Van Lustbader’s fantasy series, The Pearl, the Kundalan people—a spiritual, nature-based society—have suffered for a century under the viciously oppressive, technologically superior V’ornn, invaders without their own world, who roam from planet to planet, conquering and plundering one society after another.

In the 101 years since the V’ornn invasion, Kundalan society has found itself gripped by a crisis of faith, certain that it has been abandoned by the Goddess Miina. As a result, Kundalan religion has fallen under the control of evil forces from within—including corrupt and powerhungry leaders who forbid the teaching of traditional Kundalan sorcery.

The V’ornn’s leaders, the Gyrgon, are a caste of brilliant technomages whose motives and desires remain largely unfathomable even to those in the highest levels of V’ornn society. It is the Gyrgon quest for immortality that has driven the V’ornn to conquer one world after another. Now, the Gyrgon want the lost Ring of Five Dragons, the key to the door of the fabled Kundalan Storehouse, and perhaps to Kundalan sorcery, which the Gyrgon believe can ultimately prevail over death itself. But in the wrong hands, the Ring will become a mechanism of annihilation for both the V’orrn and their Kundalan subjects. Only the hero of Kundalan prophecy, a legendary figure known as the Dar Salat, can wield the sorcerous power needed to save the world by stopping what the misuse of the Ring has set in motion.

As the story begins, the V’orrn are led by the current regent Eleusis Ashera, who is no ordinary V’ornn.  Years ago Ashera took as his mistress a powerfully gifted Kundalan sorceress named Giyan, originally a prisoner, with whom he fell deeply in love. Giyan ultimately returned his feelings, and has raised his son, Annon,  into adolescence. 

From Gyan, Ashera has learned the value of Kundalan belief and magic, and he has set in motion a grand plan to construct Za Hara-at, a city where Kundalan and V’ornn can live and work peacefully together. But powerful forces in the Kundalan military, commerce, and politics conspire against him, and Ashera and most of his family are killed in a bloody palace coup. Only his son, Annon, escapes with Giyan, and the two begin their quest to bring the Dar Sala-at and the Ring of Five Dragons together—the only hope of saving Kundala. It is never a clear path: enemies surround them, driven by their own lust for power—not only V’ornn, but even Giyan’s corrupt and powerful twin sister Bartta, leader of the abbey where Kundalan religious, known as the Ramahan, have always trained. And friends and allies come from the least likely groups—even from the ranks of the vicious Khagggun soldiers, who have hunted, tortured, and killed the Kundalan for a century. 

Once the identity of the Dar Sala-at is known, it becomes clear that the elementally powerful forces have been unleashed, and that the fate of Kundala hangs in the balance. Can stealth, cleverness, a network of underground compatriots, and the power of Giyan’s sorcerous Gift protect Giyan and Annon until the Dar Sala-at and the Ring can be united? 

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 28, 2012

    **PLEASE READ THE REVIEW, DON'T JUST COUNT THE STARS** I have b

    **PLEASE READ THE REVIEW, DON'T JUST COUNT THE STARS**

    I have been a fan of Lustabder for decades, having devoured the Linnear novels as they came out. After a long break, I found this series and was immediately hooked -the world of Kundala is a wonderful creation as are the strong very modern characters and the comparison of sorcery and corrupt sorcerers as one source of power and science and corrupt scientists as the other. Unfortunately, its obvious that there was supposed to be a book four and so book three was a HUGE disappointment with nearly none of the conflicts that developed over the prior fifteen hundred pages satisfactorily resolved.

    *Book one -awesome!
    *Book two, pretty good.
    *Book three? Lustbader's excuse to exit the series (uncompleted) to go write the Bourne novels.

    There should be a warning label on this series indicating that you are about to take on more than fifteen hundred pages only to say "huh?" at the end of the last book. It should warn you that, when you then likely to go to the author's website to figure out what happened, you will find out he simply abandoned the series it when a more lucrative offer came along. Really, its on his website.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2008

    Lustbader fan

    This book was pretty good. It was fast moving and you would miss alot if you tried to skip pages. Alot of twist and turns, and more action than what I thought there would be. It is a combination of Star Trek,Lord of the Rings, magic, and asian culture. I am not a big reader but the ring of five dragons I couldn't put down, and can't wait to move forward to veil of a thousand tears and mistress of the pearl. I have read other books by Lustbader and so far I'm not disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2007

    Fantastic Journey Not To Be Missed!

    I have just finished this book and have ordered the two remaining books, 'The Veil of a Thousand Tears' and 'The Pearl'. Every sfi-fantasy fan should have this trilogy in their library. Great author - Great story line - Great imagination which probably surpasses J K Rowling of Harry Potter fame. The female characters exude strength and honor even though there are difficult times presented to them by males they always overcome them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2005

    so cool

    This book is soo good you cant stop reading untill u get to the end and even then you wanna find out more

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2003

    Joyce,

    this is the first book I have read by this author and I will try other of his books. Some of his terms were confusing with is true of a lot of S/F or fantacy books. It has a lot of volence so I would not recommend it for a young readership, saying that, the story has a lot of detail that I had to sometime go back and reread a section to make sure I understood and there it was! Many things are indicated but not completed so It wets your mind to know more. I normally would not pick a book with 572 pages, but I am glad I did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2003

    Awesome!

    I borrowed this from a friend and I am 90 pages from the end. I havent been able to put it down today! It is so captivating and amazing! I was so disapointed that I am getting close to the end, but I just now found out that it is a series!!! Now I am very excited again! I am buying both of them right now so that I have a copy of my own and read the second one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2002

    Fantastic!

    The story literally takes U away from everyday ordinary life into a magical world of soceresses, ancient nomadic races, advanced technology etc. Features very strong female characters, who dominate & shape most of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2002

    A Masterpiece of worldbuilding!

    One of the signs of a great writer is the ability to write something totally different from what you are familar with.Lustbader the man who wrote so thrilling Nicholas Linnear ninja books returns to fantasy in this lavish epic fantasy series called the Pearl. He takes us to the world of Kundalan where it's inhabitants have been enslaved for over a century by the brutal offworld empire of the V'ornn.The Kundalan people who use traditional sorcery and religion see their society undermined from within by evil forces who seek to stop their use of magic.The only hope they have is prophecy of a messiah, The Dar Sala-at who is the only person who can wield the magic powerful enough to save their world! I was totally immersed in this epic saga! Lustbader's world-building skills are tremendous as he takes you step by step into his wondrous world in a story that is equal parts Dune and Wheel of Time.You will watch as scenes of machivellian intrigues among the ruling V'ornn and religious Kundalann people as betrayal and treachery are the norms of this war-torn planet.And you will be shocked by the sinister powers of Gyrgon, the mysterious rulers of the V'ornn. The characters come alive on through the pages of the epic saga:the twin sisters, Giyan and Batta who's destinies with the Dar Sala-at will put them at odds with each other.Eleusis Ashera, the kind-hearted V'ornn regent who's forward thinking policies for the planet seals his doom.The evil Wennn Stogggul, Ashera's most hated rival on the planet.and last but not least, Annon Ashera, Eleusis son, who's transformation will decide the fate of this world!So pick up this book and be prepare to enter a realm of adventure, romance and intrigue that you will never forget!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2002

    its a grate book

    its was one of the best book's i have read and i can't wate for part two to come out

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2002

    GREAT!

    This book was well written with good descriptions. The plot is thick and suspenseful, i cannot wait to read the next book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2002

    A pretty mediocre book

    This book is pretty bad, it goes into astonishing detail over unnecesarily gruesome acts. The writing quality is poor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2002

    Violence, cruelty and shallow story mar this work

    The jacket of this book compares this to the works of Brooks, Eddings and others. I feel the writer of this should be sued for false advertising. The overall story seems very shallow and is full of far too much violence and cruelty to make this and enjoyable read. War is heck and all, but unlike the aforementioned authors, Lustbader seems to revel in detailing the monstrous acts committed by his characters. The vagueness regarding the supernatural/magical aspects does not tantalize like Eddings or Brooks but simply leaves one puzzled about how this strange and destructive world he has created functions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2001

    Ring of Five Dragons

    Over a century ago, the vicious V¿ornn conquered the peaceful Kundala as the military superiority and the amoral ability to kill overwhelmed the more spiritual people. Brutally enslaved by their conquerors, the Kundala cannot understand why the Goddess Miina abandoned them. The younger Kundala are leaving the ancient beliefs for a new religion as the V¿ornn force their culture on the losers with little counter absorption. <P>Unlike their drones, the V¿ornn leadership covet whatever is hidden inside the Kundalan Storehouse where they expect all sorts of sorcery secrets to be found, including eternal life. However they need to find the RING OF FIVE DRAGONS to open the door to the mystical storehouse. If they succeed, will the V¿ornn obtain their desires, will they set in motion a doomsday scenario destroying everyone, or will they inadvertently begin the fulfilling of a prophecy that forecasts a Kundalan freedom fighter leading a resistance? <P>When the RING OF FIVE DRAGONS concentrates on the social interactions and upheavals between the two distinct societies, the novel is a superior fantasy tale. That part of the story line is incredibly insightful as it feels like the German blitzkrieg of Europe, especially when the bellicose V¿ornn impact the culture of the pastoral Kundalan. When the story line returns to traditional epic fantasy, it retains its high level of quality and remains a fun to read adventure, but the plot is not any different from some of the other well-written genre tales. Eric Van Lustbader has written a fabulous book that fantasy readers will find entertaining and insightful, but could have been a cultural milestone if it stayed the interrelationship course. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2001

    VERY INTRICATE PLOT...

    I think it will turn out to be a great epic series. I cannot wiat for the next one

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Ring of Five Dragons

    Over a century ago, the vicious V¿ornn conquered the peaceful Kundala as the military superiority and the amoral ability to kill overwhelmed the more spiritual people. Brutally enslaved by their conquerors, the Kundala cannot understand why the Goddess Miina abandoned them. The younger Kundala are leaving the ancient beliefs for a new religion as the V¿ornn force their culture on the losers with little counter absorption. <P> Unlike their drones, the V¿ornn leadership covet whatever is hidden inside the Kundalan Storehouse where they expect all sorts of sorcery secrets to be found, including eternal life. However they need to find the RING OF FIVE DRAGONS to open the door to the mystical storehouse. If they succeed, will the V¿ornn obtain their desires, will they set in motion a doomsday scenario destroying everyone, or will they inadvertently begin the fulfilling of a prophecy that forecasts a Kundalan freedom fighter leading a resistance? <P> When the RING OF FIVE DRAGONS concentrates on the social interactions and upheavals between the two distinct societies, the novel is a superior fantasy tale. That part of the story line is incredibly insightful as it feels like the German blitzkrieg of Europe, especially when the bellicose V¿ornn impact the culture of the pastoral Kundalan. When the story line returns to traditional epic fantasy, it retains its high level of quality and remains a fun to read adventure, but the plot is not any different from some of the other well-written genre tales. Eric Van Lustbader has written a fabulous book that fantasy readers will find entertaining and insightful, but could have been a cultural milestone if it stayed the interrelationship course. <P>Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    awful stuff from a great writer?

    Mr. Van Lustbader is the author of quite a few excellent books. This is not one of them. It reads like an outline for a series of books. The people and the situations just zip in and out, without rhyme or reason. Things and ideas come out of no-where and seem to drift back there, quite casually. I find it extremely hard to believe that this was written by the same writer who penned 'White Ninja'. Nearly unbelievable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2001

    Great Start to an Epic Fantasy Series

    Just over one hundred years ago, the V'ronn invaded the planet Kundala. They immediately gained control of the planet through their advanced technology and the vicious oppression of the citizens of Kundala. The people of Kundala are losing faith with their goddess Miina: not understanding why their goddess disappeared when the V'ronn arrived and why she allows the savage invaders to terrorize and kill them. As evil forces begin to appear behide the scenes of the Kundala abbeys, a new religion appears, one that denies the very existence of sorcery. The people of Kundala have not only lost their freedom to the V'ronn's, they have also lost their spirituality. The cruel treatment, torture and murdering of captured Kundalans has a secret purpose. The leaders of the V'ronn- the technomage caste of Gyrgon- are searching for the RING OF FIVE DRAGONS. This ring is believed to be the key that will open the fabled door of the Storehouse and, quite possibly, the key to understanding Kundalan sorcery. When the Ring is discovered, the Gyrgons attempt to unlock the door with disastrous results. Not only do they fail, the attempt enables a destruction device on a countdown to annihilation that will destroy the planet, the Kundalans and the V'ronns. The Dar Sala-at, whom it is written will come and lead the people to freedom, is the only person who can stop the destruction. But the Dar Sala-at is only a prophecy, right? The race begins to locate the Dar Sala-at and save Kundala. RING OF FIVE DRAGONS is THE best book I've read this year. It is the first novel in an epic fantasy series called THE PEARL. The author, Eric Van Lustbader, has entertained millions around the world with his prior adventure and action stories, such as Ninja and French Kiss. Now he proves that he can write topnotch fantasy as well. There are several storylines in RING OF FIVE DRAGONS, yet he does a wonderful job of maintaining tense scenes while furthering the plot on several levels. Conflict between the V'ronn and the Kundalans is a given, but he shows the conflict and betrayals within the same species as well. All of the characters are described with such vivid words that they seem to leap out of the book and into the readers imagination. Their struggles, loves and conflicts are brought out clearly and this results in the reader caring about what happens to each character, even the V'ronn. Van Lustbader shows that even the enemy can have a good side with the example of a Gyrgon who rebels against his caste members when he knows they are wrong. The plot, as said previously, works on several levels and has as many twists and turns as a rollercoaster and will keep the reader breathless as each scene flows into the next. The tension tightens with each chapter, the betrayals and the unexpected friendships that are formed and the characters themselves will keep the reader turning pages long into the night. This is a book that is very hard to stop reading once started and even when I did stop, I found myself thinking of the story and wondering what would happen next. It isn't often that an established author in one genre can turn around and write a winner in another, but Mr Van Lustbander does precisely this. He has written such a fascinating novel that I truly hated to see it end. I can't wait for the next installment of THE PEARL and I know that I'll be rereading this one often until the next one comes out. I very highly recommend that you treat yourself to THE RING OF FIVE DRAGONS, settle back and be entertained by a master!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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